AT&T has freed up a few spare billion dollars with the assistance of Crown Castle. The two companies announced a wireless tower transaction yesterday that will put $4.85B in cash into AT&T's coffers.
Under the terms of the deal, Crown Castle will gain exclusive rights to lease and operate some 9,100 of AT&T's towers, and will buy another 600 outright. The lease terms average about 28 years, after which Crown Castle would have fixed price purchase options.
Of course, AT&T will be the main tenant with a minimum of 10 years at some $1,900/month per site with all sorts of renewal and reserve capacity rights. But Crown Castle will also be able to sublease space on the towers to other carriers, which moves a nice chunk of infrastructure into the carrier neutral column.
Just what is AT&T planning that has them monetizing their towers? Perhaps all that talk of interest in European M&A isn't of the idle variety. Granted that for AT&T $4.85B in cash isn't going to shift the needle as far as it would for just about anyone else. But it certainly doesn't hurt either, giving them added flexibility in whatever it is they do come up with on the M&A front.